- Mike Reiss, ESPN New England Patriots reporter
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Jim Hausmann's behind-the-scenes, 19-year tenure with the New England Patriots, in which he served as chief financial officer and chief administrative officer, wasn't in the original playbook.
The idea was for him to relocate briefly from his hometown of St. Louis, learn the football business and then return home to work for an NFL expansion team. His connection was with James Orthwein, who in 1992 had purchased controlling interest of the Patriots from Victor Kiam.
Yet just as it can happen sometimes on the football field, things didn't unfold as planned. The results were better than he ever anticipated.
Hausmann stayed with the Patriots when Robert Kraft purchased the team from Orthwein in January of 1994, making him the Dante Scarnecchia on the business side of the franchise. Scarnecchia, of course, has survived multiple head-coaching changes in a business in which new coaches usually like to clean house and bring in their own assistants.
Why did the Krafts keep Hausmann? The soft-spoken Midwest native is still not sure to this day, but the decision took him on a memory-filled journey that he's grateful for -- from the on-field success of three Super Bowl championships, to seeing old Foxboro Stadium replaced by the privately financed Gillette Stadium, to the creation of the team's Hall of Fame, Patriot Place and countless special friendships.
Hausmann now calls New England home and it's where he's happy to retire, which he did quietly this week, with Robert and Jonathan Kraft presenting him a No. 19 Patriots jersey, the number matching his years of service.
"I came up here with the intent of returning to St. Louis. The question was 'Am I going to be here for nine months, 12 months, 15 months or 24 months?'" Hausmann said of the time he often commuted back to St. Louis to see his wife Terri and their three children, Jennifer, Kyle and Brian.
"But I was blessed with the opportunity to stay on after the [sale to Kraft]. It's been a great career for me from that standpoint."
Hausmann is the type of person that every successful organization needs, the detailed number-cruncher who monitors cash flow, makes sure the bills get paid and sees to it that all facets of game day -- from tickets, parking, concessions and more -- go smoothly. Those inside Gillette Stadium describe him as a first-to-arrive, last-to-leave employee. He attended every game, with reporters often running into him in the press box during road games because that's where he watched the action.
When Hausmann arrived in New England, his primary background was as a certified public accountant, but he soon fell in love with most everything about football. He is one of the few people who can speak to the transformation of the inner workings of the Patriots since 1992, when games weren't sold out and marketing dollars, revenues and ticket sales were limited.
This was a different world than the one Hausmann had been living in back in St. Louis, where he was working for a regional stockbrokerage firm. That's how he struck up a business relationship with Orthwein, who was an investor in the firm.
"In March of '92, I got a call to go to lunch with him and his right-hand business associate," Hausmann recalled. "He had just acquired interest in the [Patriots] and I was hired to come up and learn the football business and go back to St. Louis and help set up an expansion franchise. At that time, [St. Louis] was the No. 1 choice ahead of Carolina and Jacksonville [for an expansion team]. But they ended up having problems within the ownership group and they fell from No. 1 to No. 3 and St. Louis was not awarded a team."
Some wondered if the Patriots might be the team relocating to St. Louis, but once Kraft purchased the team in 1994, it ensured the franchise would remain in New England.
Once Hausmann knew he was staying as well, which was a surprise to him, he moved his family to New England for good and became part of the "vision and passion" that Kraft had for the franchise. Part of that vision included hiring the right people, holding them accountable and then giving them more responsibility as it was warranted.
Now he says it is the right time to retire, and he looks forward to spending more time with family, including two grandchildren, as well as to improving his golf game.
Joking that he's the "old Midwestern transplant," he looks back with fond memories.
"A lot of times after an acquisition, they change the staffing, but the Krafts gave me a continued role in the organization. I'm thankful to them, and the confidence they showed in me," he said.
"My favorite moments, on the football side, would have to be the three Super Bowl wins, being able to partake in those and working on the business side to provide support to what takes place on the field. Then the other part, and what is the hardest about retiring, is missing the people I've worked with over the years. They've done a great job to make it happen and turn the franchise into what it is today."
Jim Hausmann's behind-the-scenes, 19-year tenure with the Patriots wasn't supposed to last that long.